There are times when being a Dad can be a lot scarier than jumping out of airplanes. A few years back we lived in a small town in England called Gerrard’s Cross. Denny was 12-years old at the time and Molly was seven. Each day after driving them to their school's bus stop, Frannie and I caught a train and the underground into London where we worked.
One day we were running late. And in order to meet the train on time, we let the kids out of the car across the road from their bus stop. Molly didn’t like this idea and cried that she wanted to be taken directly to the bus as always. I told her to stop being silly ... that mom would help her cross (Fulmer Rd).
While I sat behind the steering wheel watching them in front of me, Denny dashed across during a break in the traffic. But, Molly’s shorter legs prevented her from doing that, and she continued holding her mom’s hand waiting for the next opportunity.
When it looked like another break in traffic was coming, Frannie said, "O.K., you can go after this car" referring to one approaching from her RIGHT Molly, however, was looking at a closer vehicle coming from her LEFT. Thinking this was the one her mom referred to, she broke away from Frannie’s grip after it passed and dashed into the street ... not knowing there was a vehicle from the RIGHT that was still coming.
It seemed like "time" went into slow-motion for me at that moment ... I was able to analyze how fast Molly was running into the street, and in the rear-view mirror I could also see how fast the car was approaching from behind where I sat ... the timing for CONTACT was perfect … and there was nothing I could do but shout!
After the car passed by me and screeched to a stop, I saw Molly's hat come tumbling out from beneath it. (I’m starting to “tear-up” writing this story.) Frannie, in her panic, ran up to the driver and began beating on his windshield screaming, "You hit my little girl!" Meanwhile, I was TRAPPED, unable to figure out how to release my seatbelt! And I prayed ... "God, please don’t let this be true what I’ve just seen happen!"
At first we were unable to find Molly. She had been thrown forward onto the front lawn of a nearby house and surely would have been killed if the driver (a guy named David Tanner) hadn't been so alert. He was crying like the rest of us while neighbors called an ambulance.
Doctors at the hospital had some initial concerns about a brain injury because Molly wouldn’t TALK at first. A few hours later when she DID begin to speak, she used a lot of "baby talk" probably being in shock. Eventually everything returned to normal. Miraculously she survived with only a big bruise.